Dry eyes, which affects more than 5 million adults in the U.S., occurs when the eye is unable to produce adequate moisture or tears to lubricate your eyes. When this happens, you may experience blurry vision, burning or an itching sensation in the eyes, and sensitivity to light.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
The hormonal changes that occur in our body as we age can affect the quality of our tears. Dry environments brought about by heating or air conditioning, bad blinking habits, allergies or cough medicines, autoimmune diseases, and smoking can also impact our eyes’ ability to produce tears. It is also not uncommon for LASIK patients to develop dry eyes post-surgery as alternations in the cornea during the procedure affect the tear-producing glands in the eye.
How are Dry Eyes treated?
There are several ways to treat dry eyes. These include the use of artificial tears, prescription drops, warm compresses, and ophthalmic inserts. Extreme cases of dry eyes may require surgery. Eye doctors at Houston LASIK & Eye, a leading eye care facility in Houston, Texas, also recommends consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health
Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty acids essential for human health. They are used by the body to maintain body functions, such as producing new cells and controlling blood clotting. Numerous studies also suggest that Omega-3s may help reduce the risk of dry eyes.
In 2005, researchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a study of 32,470 women aged between 25 and 84 years old to determine the relationship between eye health and Omega-3 consumption. They found that participants who had the highest amount of Omega-3s in their diet had an 83% lower risk of dry eye syndrome.
In 2010, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducted a clinical trial to investigate the effects of Omega-3 on patients with dry eyes. The participants were given a daily dose of 400 milligrams of EPA, 300 milligrams of DHA and 1000 milligrams of Flaxseed Oil. Researchers found that the participants produced more tears as a result of their Omega-3 intake.
A study published in the November 2003 issue of Ophthalmology Times showed intake of Omega-3s before and after laser eye surgery greatly benefitted patients with dry eye syndrome.
Where can I get Omega-3s?
The body can produce some types of fats; Omega-3 is not one of them. You have to acquire Omega-3 from food.
There are two major types of Omega-3 fatty acids;
ALA (alpha-linoleic acid): The highest concentration of ALA is found in vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and winter squash, and spinach. Other good sources are nuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.
DHA and EPA: Cold-water fish such as salmon, anchovies, tilapia, Bluefin, and tuna have high DHA and EPA content. If you don’t like the taste of fish, fish oil supplements are readily available in pharmacies.
How much Omega-3s should I consume?
The Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming 8 ounces per week or 2.5 milligrams of Omega-3s per day.